Lenk and his band of fellow mismatched and grumpy adventurers are shipwrecked on an island. An island that is a graveyard for demons and dragonmen alike. An island inhabited by lizard men. An island of secrets that is about to become a battleground.
And back in civilisation Bralston, a very different Librarian, is being sent out to learn exactly what has happened to the Tome of the Undergates and to punish those that have misused magic. And Bralston will uphold the law.
But the Tome will be read and it is calling to those who would read it and open the gates to hell.
Sam Sykes' unique and energetic fantasy has carved out its own place in the fantasy landscape. Critics are arguing about the book but readers have fallen for its dark and twisted charms. This is a key fantasy for the new decade.
Lenk and his companions have recovered the Tome of the Undergates; but when they discover their ship has sprung a leak, the adventurers end up stranded on an island with a dark history of its own and pursued by submarine monsters, fanatical non-human warriors, power-mad mages and violently diligent Librarians. Despite such calamity, they all find time to contemplate in some detail their tragic back-stories and crippling personal shortcomings. Should this group of reluctant heroes falter, the very survival of the world is at stake. Sykes's first book was flawed but with hints of untapped potential. This volume, in contrast, preserves and builds on the flaws of its predecessor. Unfortunately, the glimpses of Sykes's potential previously seen are invisible here. A mid-series book is more of a fragment than a complete novel nothing truly dramatic can happen in it; the important characters cannot really be in danger and none of the important conflicts can actually be resolved. Sykes fails to meet or break-through any of the mid-series conventions, which makes for a slow-paced, predictable and just-plain-disappointing sequel to a mediocre debut.